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Be A Competitor!

November 29th, 2019

I’m a strong believer in reinvesting some of your earnings back into your writing career.

Sell an article for £150? Yes, treat yourself to a box of luxury chocolates by all means, but also put some of it away towards a writing course, perhaps, and spend some of it on market research, or even a new book about writing!

Writing competitions are another thing I think it’s worth ‘investing’ in.

Some up-and-coming writers are reluctant to participate in writing competitions. One of the reasons is that there is (usually) an entry fee, but this to me is a good sign – one that the competition is being properly run. Administering a writing competition is time-consuming, and readers and judges need to be hired and paid for.

You may think there is a low likelihood of winning, and therefore that it may be a waste of money. Well, some competitions, especially those with modest prizes, don’t receive as many entries as you may think. Your odds might be greater than you imagine …

And it is never a waste, anyway. If you don’t win, you’ll still have a piece of work that you can perhaps reshape into a saleable article, or submit to a different competition some other day. You’ll have gained from the experience of writing to a deadline and, more importantly, the competition may have a set theme, about a subject which you perhaps wouldn’t ordinarily consider. This is particularly valuable, as it broadens your horizons beyond the often-quoted ‘write about what you know’ maxim, which can hold talented writers back.

And who knows, you may attract the attention of an influential judge, even if you didn’t bag top prize.

Or you might win!

Some caveats. Do read the rules, understand them, and obey them. Pay particular attention to the terms and conditions, and watch out for any suspect copyright clauses. Some unscrupulous organisers stipulate an assignment of copyright in all entries, which is unacceptable. Commonly, it is travel companies who do this, in order to generate free and usable content for their websites or brochures. Be especially careful with travel writing competitions, then.

I’ve always felt non-fiction writers to be a bit ‘short changed’ when it comes to competitions, as there are so few suitable for them relative to short story writers, who have ample choice. But if you’re looking for some, you may like to start at my website’s dedicated Competitions page at www.mistakeswritersmake.com/competitions, where you can find UK-based non-fiction and essay competitions, plus links to those elsewhere in the world. Good luck!

 

Alex Gazzola is the author of the Mistakes Writers Make series of guides for new writers. The latest, 50 Mistakes Writers Make, has just been released, and is available in ebook or paperback format through Amazon stores worldwide.

 

 

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